If you have ever been in a short round, you know how it feels. The music is loud, horses are amped, and you can almost feel your heart trying to beat out of your chest. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s one of the main reasons we enter in the first place. This feeling can either bring you to a higher level or can cause you to fumble. It is all about how we take this pressure that determines whether we win or not. Do you tighten up or do you get exhilarated and loosen up. Being able to handle and harness this adrenaline rush is what separates the winners from everyone else. Just like anything else, whatever we practice in private, we are rewarded for in public.
What Is That Rush?
Why do we get so amped? This is just human instinct at work. We can feel the pressure in the air. We can feel the gravity of the situation. It is our own mind that does this to us. I believe much of the pressure we feel is self inflicted and that is unavoidable. We just want to do good. We want to prove it to our selves and everyone that we can execute under pressure. The main thing we can do is learn to control this rush. We can learn to harness this rush and train our selves to execute in the face of it. I think it’s easy for us to think that it just happens to us but the truth is, everyone feels it. Everyone still gets those= butterflies before a big moment even after being there time and time again. It is simply human nature and just shows that this matters to you.
Dealing With That Pressure
So how do we train our selves to execute under all this pressure. Just like a muscle, it doesn’t just come out of no where. It needs to be conditioned and trained. Just like doing a sit up, at first it might feel hard to do 10, but with some consistency, you will be able to do 20 with ease. It is the same thing with dealing with pressure. The pros that have to blast the last one at the American for a million didn’t start there. They have executed time and time again on smaller stages so that when the time comes, they don’t let that pressure bother them. The same goes for us. We need to condition our body and mind to be able to execute when the money is up, before the money is actually up.
Conditioning Our Mind
So how do we do this? I think it starts small. It starts with playing mind games with your self and setting up scenarios for ourselves so we can recreate that butterfly feeling. I like to tell myself while I’m roping the dummy “ok high call, have to be 8.5 or better on this one to win.” Even with small little drills like this you will be amazed at the butterflies that pop up. Then move on to some cattle. Start on a good steer when you are on a good horse and set up the same scenario. It can even just be in your own mind to start. But can be a great training tool and add the pressure if you voice it out loud to your partner. Try setting up different scenarios moving forward and trying tougher steers. If you really want to push your self, its best to rope cattle you don’t know.
The reason that you see those pros be able to execute under all that pressure, whether it is the American or the last steer at the National Finals goes back to one thing. They have already ran that steer hundreds if not thousands of times in the practice pen. Running that high call steer is not just a one off thing. They have proven it to them selves time and time again that it can be done and they can execute. I think it’s easy to think that this doesn’t happen to everyone. That we are just being a rookie and no one else feels like this. The truth is, everyone has nerves from the number 3 to the guys roping for a million at the American. Do you think Coleman Proctor was just chill and easy right before he ran that final steer for a million? My bet would be no way, I guarantee his heart was trying to beat out of his chest before. But some how he found a way to calm him self enough to be able to execute right there. It is the same thing with us. We need to practice controlling our emotions in the practice pen so that when that high call steer comes, we know we can execute.
Now I don’t know whats in your head. I don’t personally know what you’re thinking when that short round comes, but I can tell you for certain it is the people that believe they can win that will. How much more likely are you to remain calm and cool if you can take your self back to the last time you ran this scenario in the practice pen. How much better will you be if you remember that time that you did execute. Whatever you have to do to recreate those butterflies in the practice pen, I promise it will be worth it. Joseph Harrison says if you believe the next steer you run will be the best run you have ever made, the next one very well might be.
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